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sore upon the men, who had the mark of the beast. Perhaps both these senses were designed to be included as united in one. An application to a large, infected tumor on the human body, which application would produce no injury on the healthful flesh; but which would produce a speedy and fatal eruption on such a tumor; though it had before occasioned but little attention, may be said both to inflict, and to discover a noisome, grievous, and deadly sore. The effect of the first vial, in the discovery, which produced the Reformation, may be viewed in this twofold light, both as inflicting, and discovering a noisome and griev.
sore upon the men, who had the mark of the beast, and who worshipped his image.
The events, which produced the reformation, were not only the first signal step toward the overthrow of Popery, but were just such events as might be expected to begin its ruin. A beam of light was let into the dark recess; or the concealment was taken off from that blasphemous system. Were a magistrate about to put an end to a scene of wickedness in operation behind a curtain; after having made his arrangements to seize the actors; and after having silently presented himself, with proper aids, by the side of the guilty apartment; what would be his first step in the process? Surely to raise the curtain, or draw it aside. Then the way is prepared to arrest the criminals, and to bring them to condign punishment. If the Most High were about to take vengeance on a corrupt es. tablishment, which is disguised under the most artful pretences, we might expect his first step would be, to strip off those false covers, and exhibit the system in its own corrupt nature. Then the propriety of his subsequent judgments will appear. This was the very thing done with the corrupt and disguised Papal system, at the time of the reformation. An argument is hence furnished in favor of that period's being the commencement of the period of the vials. The ministrations of Luther, and of the other reformers, with the benefit of the art of printing, and the revival of learning in Europe, after the dark ages, stripped the
vail from Popery, and discovered the deadly corruption of that system. And what symbolic figure could more correctly depict the operation, than the one given as the effect of the discharge of the first vial; viz. the falling of a noisome and grievous sore upon the men, who had the mark of the beast, and who worshipped his image. Here was a new scene opened. And it was the first, and a most natural step in that process of judgments, upon which a holy God was then entering with the man of sin. A sore was made, a deadly wound given in a system, which was itself shown to be but a great and filthy excrescence, like a fatal abscess upon the body of a man.
As the above explanation of this vial, and that of the second, third, fourth, and fifth vials, which is to follow, is new, it may be expedient to adduce here some further proofs and illustrations, to show that the time of the reformation was the cominencement of the period of the vials; and that the reformation itself was the first vial. And as my track is wholly unbeaten, and the scheme, if correct, involves consequences very interesting to this age of the world, I shall take liberty to dwell somewhat largely upon this vial, and to show that the sixteenth century opened the period of the vials.
Let any one read the history of Europe in the dark ages, and through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and he must be convinced that Popery continued entire till the commencement of the sixteenth century; and that then it began to experience a fatal reverse of circumstances. Such a reader must clearly perceive that all the affairs of the nations of Europe had been preparing the way for the commencement of just such events, as seem to be indicated in the vials, till Luther arose, and Charles V came to the Imperial throne of Germany; and that then the drama, tremendous to the Papal see, opened. It has already been observed, that the commencement of the vials must have been the opening of a new and fatal series of judgments on the Papal system. But no such event took place till the above period, notwithstanding the judgment of the second woe, and other calamities,
The fanatical crusades to the Holy land, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in which it has been supposed the second vial was poured out, though they were in themselves bloody and dismal, yet tended to the confirming of the Papal domination. Upon those crusades Dr. Lowman has the following sentence; “In effect no policy could have so well served the Pope's ambition, nor any mean be better suited to render his authority supreme and absolute.”* Was this then a vial of wrath upon the Papacy? Those events gave the Pope the management of the alms and legacies poured in, in vast profusion, for the support of those wars. He had in effect the supreme control of all those operations; which vastly established his influence. At the same time those wild expeditions laid a founda. tion to meliorate the state of Europe, and to cause light to dawn upon the barbarous ages. The travelling of such multitudes of ignorant beings abroad from their own cells, into other regions, and particularly through Constantinople, that city of knowledge and refinement, gave
them new ideas of the world, of what man is capable, and of the benefits of civilization. This had a beneficial effect upon those, who lived to return; and they communicated it to others. The crusades tended to the establishment of civilized governments, instead of the anarchy of the feudal times, by drawing away contentious barons, who perished in the expeditions, and whose fiefs reverted to their kings. And the kings of the west of Europe had been enabled to purchase vast tracts of territory from the chiefs of the wild adventurers who calculated on new possessions in the east. This did considerable towards retrieving the miseries of the dark and feudal ages. Commerce also received a spring from the crusades. The procuring of supplies for the thousands and hundreds of thousands, who embarked in those expeditions, suggested the idea of barter and trade, especially in Italy: And rapid advances were made in this most gainful and civilizing art, by the Lombards and others, till the spirit of com
*On Rev, p. 181.
merce spread through most of Europe. Light in the art of civil government soon increased; and Charters of Communities” under the crown; or towns, with incorporate privileges, were established in Italy and France, and finally through Europe, and took the place of the wretched petty baronies of the feudal ages. * Chivalry, or the order of knighthood, which followed, and aided the melioration of those days, having “valor, humanity, courtesy, justice, and honor” for its professed characteristics; and the redress of the oppressed, under the feudal barons, for its professed object; operated as a favorable mean of refinement and civilization from the barbarity of the dark ages. Men were trained to this order by an appropriate discipline, and admitted with solemn form. Its honors were sought as of high importance; and monarchs were proud to receive them from the hands of private gentlemen.t
These things fast prepared the way to overturn the impositions of Popery, and to strip from the eyes of men, the bandages of delusion and superstition. At the same time these approaches toward light and civilization brought forward a system of preparations for the most desolating scenes of Divine judgment on Papal nations, as will appear under the succeeding vials. Standing armies, disciplined troops, were not known in Europe, after the days of the Cæsars, and the northern invasions, till this period. Charles II, king of France, now introduced the practice. This, while it confounded the aristocracies of the feudal barons, opened the door for new scenes of extensive and desolating wars. The idea of the balance of power, for the mutual interest of the European nations, was conceived at this period; a principle, which however necessary, often, in after days, involved the nations of Europe in a general blaze of war.f Tactics and the arts of war were from this pea riod studied. Firearms and gunpowder had not long before been invented. Refined instruments for a new period of judgments! The art of printing also, to facilitate
*Robertson's Hist. Ch. V, vol. i, p. 31–40.
+Ib. p. 84. IIb. p. 107.
their progress in the arts of war, as well as in arts more beneficial to society, was now considerably improved. Every thing had been conspiring to prepare the way for a new and most interesting era of events. And ey. ery thing indicated that, with all its rich advantages of increasing light and civilization, that era was to open a period of terror and devastation to the Papal see. Great generals were raised up. Most ambitious rivals came to the thrones of the most powerful nations. Charles V, king of Spain, was elected to fill the Imperial throne of Germany. And he was formed with powers and ambition, and accommodated with dominions and opportunity, to be a scourge to man! Francis I, who had been a violent competitor with Charles for the Imperial crown, and was his powerful rival, was on the throne of France. Henry VIII, ready to unite in any object of enterprise and ambition, was king of England. Ånd Solyman, formed for war and enterprise, was emperor of the Turks. Such a preparation of executioners of the Divine judgments, could not have risen, and been placed in their posts, without vast design in Providence. And it is allowed that a new era of most important affairs commenced with the sixteenth century, after the long reign of darkness and Papal superstition. Dr. Robertson remarks, “Accordingly the sixteenth century opened with the certain prospect of its abounding with great and interesting events."* And such events did in fact take place. The Pope himself (till now unshaken, as superior to all danger) in the view of these preparations, trembled, and predicted the approaching ruin of the Papal see! as will be noted under the next vial. To this period then we must look, for the commencement of the vials of Divine wrath on the Papal beast.
And when this apparatus, which has been hinted, and will more fully appear under the next vial, was prepared, the first most natural and necessary step would be, to draw the curtain, to expose the wicked delusions of the system now destined to ruin; and that God's